Labour needs to be more social-ist

Downgraded Chancellor-1774847

So the appointment of Blue State Digital as consultants to Labour’s digital task force is a bit of a no brainer.

We all looked enviously across the Atlantic at the sheer campaigning power of OFA, wondering when Labour would make the move.

It’s taken a long time but the party’s finally changed its status from ‘it’s complicated’ to ‘in a relationship.’

Head of Digital John Miles, who took over from the very talented Sue MacMillan, has done some smart things with his limited budget. There’s more of a focus on infographics and a quicker response to develop memes and buzz around hashtags.

Ed M won the tweet-off with Osborne’s Aspiration Nation. Spelling out #downgradedchancellor in his Commons Budget reply and responding in less than 140 characters reaped dividends, becoming the second most trending topic and bled into mainstream media too.

But the party must look at the social aspect of all their comms. The Party Political Broadcasts have been a bit drab of late. People don’t want to see politicians – they want real stories from real people.

It’s almost as if the PPBs are solely a device to get coverage in the mainstream press rather than a wider strategy of engagement. Labour must discover why people pass content on.

A New York Times study found there are six sharing personas for online fans. They are:

Altruists—Altruists share content out of a desire to be helpful and aspire to be seen as a reliable source of information. Preferred tools: Facebook and email.

Careerists—Careerists are well-educated and seek to gain a reputation for bringing value to their networks. They prefer content that is more serious and professional in tone. Preferred tools: LinkedIn and email.

Hipsters—Hipsters are younger sharers who have always lived in the “information age.” They use Twitter and Facebook to share cutting-edge and creative content. They share content to build their online identity. Preferred tools: Facebook and Twitter.

Boomerangs—Boomerangs seek validation and thrive on the reaction of others to their content, even when it’s negative responses. Preferred tools: Facebook, email, Twitter and blogs, wherever people will engage them.

Connectors—Connectors see content sharing as a means of staying connected to others and making plans. They are more relaxed in their sharing patterns. Preferred tools: Facebook and email.

Selectives—Selectives are more thoughtful in what they share and with whom they share it. They personalize their sharing and expect responses to their content. Preferred tool: email.

So the common denominators across most of these personas is that they will share something if it is engaging, relevant, educational, cutting edge and helpful.

So Labour needs to encourage more and more people to share, engage and endorse their message. And even more importantly, let them shape it.

I played a small part in the last election by doing the first pastiche of Cameron’s NHS poster. I thought it looked a bit airbrushed so I got a friend to do this photoshop.


It inspired the brilliant Clifford Singer to set up mydavidcameron and the rest was history. A conventional £500,000 advertising campaign was destroyed by social media that cost nothing.  And it wasn’t nasty. It was all done with humour and engagement.

That’s why Labour needs to stress test every bit of comms to see if it really has the potential to go viral on social media.

The combined total of people who buy daily national newspapers is just over 8.14 million. The number of people on Twitter in the UK? More than10 million.Those on Facebook? 33 million – more than half the population.

That’s an audience of 43 million people right there. All with the power to influence their friends and family.

Blair campaigned on education, education, education.

But the next election will be defined by three words.

Content, content, content.

But people have got to like it!


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